Saturday, November 26, 2011

Books by Covers

I don't think you can judge a book by its cover, but...
I think you can get a glimpse of someone by several things. Namely... their grocery cart contents, their magazine subscriptions and their library card printouts.

For example: My monthly magazine subscriptions are:

Canadian Living
Martha Stewart Living
Everyday Food
Country Living
Real Simple
Yoga Journal
Food and Wine
National Geographic
Canadian History

So what does that say about me? I like to practice yoga, keep it simple, decorate, parent and partner. I like to learn history, Canadian and otherwise. I like to keep on top of current events and long for country life.

By the magazines I don't subscribe to you can know I am not into sports. I don't like beauty and fashion and fancy schmancy  stuff. Plain Jane outdoorsy, simple yogini who likes good food and  cheap  good wine.

And my library books for the week, homeschooling books not included:
Well I won't reprint the titles but I think you get the idea.
Same sort of theme only in hardcover.

We are all so unique aren't we? Yet somehow we are all the same. We want to love and be loved. We want to know and be known. We want to learn and to teach, give and receive.

So I wonder, what magazines and books are in your home, waiting to be read? Do you think they paint a portrait of who you are? I'd like to meet you. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

In the Kitchen On the Needles

Updated: Vanilla Pudding recipe at end of post.

There has been a lot of that going on around here
now that the weather has significantly cooled.

I have kind of been obsessed with this vanilla pudding.
It is so smooth and tasty.
I ripped the recipe out of  Everyday Food
and have made it several times already.
Simple ingredients and so much more tasty
than a boxed instant pudding.
And the piece de resistance,
warm vanilla roasted pears on top.

And this salad. Looks a bit messy but oh the flavour.
It couldn't be simpler either.
Quarter and seed some Roma tomatoes.
Chop an onion and some garlic.
Put the works on a roasting tray, drizzle with
olive oil. And sea salt and pepper.
Roast for about 30 mins or so at 375.
Take the hot stuff an mix with fresh spinach.
That's it.

And this recipe. Broiled tilapia cod with a coconut curry sauce.
Need I say more? Recipe here.

This spinach salad with pear, bacon, cranberries, walnuts and blue cheese.
Fig and balsamic dressing.
I LOVE blue cheese.

This Hutterite chicken. Oh my. So delicious.
I slow roast it. An hour per pound. Yes really.
It is moist and tender and so wonderful.
Recipe here.

And the best roasted veg you will ever eat.
Potatoes, crisp on the outside, perfectly done on the inside.
Parsnips, carrots, onion.
Thank you Jamie Oliver.
I will never make a poor roasted potato again.
The secret? Parboil the veg first.

And on the needles...
Hats. Lots of them.
This one is  a silk cotton blend and is not at all warm.
I was disappointed. More of a fall and spring toque I guess.

This merino wool hat. Warm as can be.
I like the fold over brim.
Extra warmth for the ears and with
my short hair I need that.

Athena's merino wool hat to match her sweater.
So cute on her. I made two more of these plus
another ribbed one for my three lovely granddaugthers.

And last, this oh so expensive Alpaca hat.
I got the wool locally from an Alpaca farm just down the highway.
It knit up so nicely, not counting the wool pieces
that were always all over my skirt and chair.

But, it kind of bothers me a bit.
A tiny bit itchy on my sensitive skin.
So, little miss A gets it. She wanted it after all.
It is kind of nice too since it was from Aria, her favorite
Alpaca at the farm. The one she pet and fed.

Thank you hat model Athena.

So I have been doing a lot of knitting including some secret "holiday"
knitting that I can't mention here.
Now I am just awaiting my wool shipment from Knitpicks.
So I can get on with the projects I have planned.

I really hope it comes in the mail tomorrow
because we are having lots of snow and way below
normal temps this weekend.
The perfect weather for knitting!
(And cooking of course.)

Classic Vanilla Pudding

1/2 cup sugar
3 T cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
2 T butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Whisk together milk, cream and egg yolks
and add to saucepan.

Whisking constantly, cook over medium high until mixture thickens and is bubbling. 8 to 12 minutes. Reduse head to medium low and cook, whiksking 1 minute.

Remove pan from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla.

Press plastic wrap directly against surface of pudding to prevent skin from forming and refrigerate 3 hours, or up to 3 days.
To serve, whisk until smooth.

Coffee flavour
Add 3 T instant espresso powder along with sugar and cornstarch.
Reduce vailla to 1/2 tsp.

Replace granulated sugar with 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
Reduce vanilla to 1/2 tsp

Add 1/4 cup cocal powder with sugar and cornstarch
Reduce vanilla to 1/2 tsp

Add 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest with sugar and cornstarch
Omit vanilla
Whisk 2 T fresh lemon juice into chilled pudding before serving.

Recipes from Everyday Food.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Living our Learning

Our learning year is progressing nicely.
Earth science is proving to be a favorite for her.
Lots of experiments.
Lots of creating.
Papier mache Earth, Moon and Sun.

Our schedule allows for a lot of afternoon creativity.
Blocks, magnets, Lincoln logs and modelling clay.
She is always making or imagining something.

Her first bunting which she stamped with apples,
iron and sewed together herself.
Pride in her workmanship was oozing from
her very being.

And of course there is ample time for outdoor play.
In this picture she is trying to coast down the golf course
hills on her belly. Like a penguin of course.
It is her winter goal to be able to do this
without a sled.

And you know how people always take pictures
of their footprints in the white sand beaches?
Well this is more our style.
Mine and Athena's that is.
Paul would rather his toes in the sand.

And of course there is a lot of crafting going on.
Winter themed of course.
Lots of ideas on Pinterest.

Her modelling clay table sits in a corner of the dining room.
Hours upon hours are spent here.

This week her Young Naturalists group
made platform bird feeders and learned
about feeding birds in winter.
We all love this program.

Of course there is book learning too.
Every morning and sometimes in the afternoon too.
Volcanoes, tornadoes, nouns and pronouns,
perimeter and area
time and money.
Phonics and literature,
reading and writing
and all that other good stuff.

The days are predictable and pleasant.
Things are running smoothly.
This home schooling gig is the way to go I tell you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Holy Ground

I want to tell you about myself.
I was raised Catholic. Very Catholic. Church every Sunday, or Saturday night for us. Baptism. First Communion. Confession. Confirmation. And so it went.

And then, wanting more than that, I was "Born Again". And everyone in my family heard about it. All the time. Ad nauseum.

And then... and then... I found yoga. It was a subtle transformation. At first it was just an exercise class that I signed up for with my oldest daughter and her friend. That was back in 2000. I loved it from that very first class.  Something struck the core of my being even though it was "just an exercise class"  any way you looked at it. Anyway, I was hooked. Long story short, I started a home practice and went on to some basic teacher training. I then taught yoga in the town I lived in and the neighboring town as well. 4 nights a week and I LOVED it.

I loved the interaction with the students. Mostly women, fewer men. I loved the looks on their faces when they went a bit deeper into a pose they had been working on. I loved when they asked me for therapeutic applications and reported back with their successes. I even loved the drive back home. Late at night along country roads, just taking it all in.

After we moved to a new province, I stopped teaching and my yoga practice really became my own.  I had a wall of windows overlooking  the Peace River in Alberta in the home we rented.( The name of that river only struck me as relevant at this very moment. Wow. Peace River.) I would roll out my mat nearly every day and overlook the river valley as I practiced asana after asana. It was then that my practice went from mostly a physical practice to more of a body/mind/spirit practice. This was so new to me. All of my life my interaction with "God" had to do with churches and organized religion. I stepped cautiously along this untrodden path.

Only a short year later we moved back to Saskatchewan and ultimately into the house we live in now. Small rural town. It wasn't long before I started teaching again, wanting to share this wonderful thing called Yoga with anyone who was interested. I began teaching 4 classes a week. I could just see the response in some of the students. They wanted what I wanted all those years ago! Some just wanted a "workout". Naturally I gravitated to those who wanted more. Circumstances made it harder for me to teach so I turned the classes over to another. It was all as it should be.

And now, 4 years later, my yoga practice means more to me than ever. I don't know when it happened but after Paul built me a home studio, sometime between then and now, I have always taken off my shoes/slippers before I enter the room. You see, it has really become a place where I connect with God. Not the God of the bible but with "Spirit, the Creator, the Universe" or whatever the name is. Always with an upper case letter. Whoever or whatever it is, I meet him/her there each time I enter. I think of that old song from my Christian days that goes something like this:

"This is holy ground. We're standing on holy ground. For the Lord is here and where he is is holy.
These are holy hands. We're lifting up holy hands. He works through these hands and so these hands are holy."

The floor of my studio and the space beyond the door is holy ground indeed.

These last few weeks I have made a commitment to enter into this room every day, roll out my mat and see what happens. I am so glad that I have done this for myself. Not only do I feel stronger and more supple, but I feel grounded and centered. I set an intention each time I begin. I want clarity of thought, kindness in my words and peace in my heart. I try to release all of those things that no longer serve me. Things like self pity, want of material things, unrealistic ideals, selfishness, resentment, anger, fear. I draw to myself all of the love, joy and goodness the Universe has to offer. I have learned to hold things loosely over the years for none of us, not one, is guaranteed tomorrow no matter how much we try. I am trying to live in the present moment. I am trying to be mindful in the every day. I am trying to love deeply and let all of my expectations go.

With this exciting new yoga commitment I can do this. I can learn to breathe and just be.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Snow Days

Today I had plans to post about my 10 days of yoga and what is has done for and meant to me but then... it snowed. So I'll leave that post for another day.

There was a promise of snow in the air and on the barometer. We had the occasional flurry the afternoon before but one had to really be on the lookout to see any.

When we awoke the next morning all the world was twinkling white.
And someone pulled up a chair to take it all in.

Of course the new snow had to be taste tested.

Nothing like the first snow to bring out all the children.


The first teeny tiny snowman, made by Daddy.

And these guys still need to be fed.

And this guy too.

Not a big fan of the mess though. What to do?

Chilled cheeks and warm chocolate. Great way to start the season.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pirate Adventures

Gosh I love this kid.
This is the first year that we actually
went to the store to buy her a Halloween costume.
All other years she put her own together
from the dress up clothes she already had.

This year she wanted to be a pirate so...
we went to the store and picked out a nice little pirate dress for her.
We had other purchases to make so she gleefully carried her pirate dress around the store.
After about 10 minutes she asked if we could go back because she changed her mind.
She hung up the dress and bee lined it over to a different rack and grabbed the boy costume.
There... much better. (And, the costume was cheaper, only 9 bucks. We got her a girl pirate costume on the weekend, just to play with. It was marked down to 3 bucks!)

And then Daddy took her out trick or treating.
She was back in 10 minutes.
She went to exactly 12 houses on our street.
She was so excited and Daddy said she laughed the entire time.
She couldn't believe how much stuff she got.

Happy with little joys.
Content with enough.
Gosh I love this kid.